Bishop weighs in on controversy over fundraiser at Billings Catholic schools

Posted at 5:13 PM, Apr 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-23 19:13:18-04

BILLINGS – The bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings is backing recent comments on social media by a priest about a same-sex couple’s role in an upcoming Billings Catholic schools’ fundraiser.

Bishop Michael Warfel also said in an interview with Q2 News Monday that he supports the mission of Catholic schools, and he does not think Father Ryan Erlenbush should have made his comments on Facebook, noting its "not a place for announcements."

Last week, Erlenbush posted comments criticizing the decision by the Billings Catholic School Foundation to allow a gay couple to serve as event co-chairs for its annual Mayfair fundraiser. Erlenbush is a priest at Corpus Christi Church in Great Falls and a Billings Central High School graduate. The post has since been taken down.

Warfel said Catholic schools have fine teachers, students get a good education, and the schools are solid. But he takes issue with the foundation’s decision of co-chairs. He said the co-chair role is a leadership position and, with that, are certain Catholic guidelines to follow. 

Warfel sent a letter to all parishes in Billings this weekend.

Warfel said he will not attend Mayfair this year. He has attended several during the past years but not all. 

"It’s an awkward situation  and it’s better that I’m not in the midst of it,"  Warfel said.

Billings Catholic School Foundation President Jan Haider said they are focused on the education of students and raising money for the schools through Mayfair.

Below is Warfel’s letter to parishioners: